Officials of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) have finally been able to open a second box found in the house of a former Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen Tukur Buratai (retd.), being used by a proxy.
The house was recently busted by the officials in the Wuse area of Abuja where cash meant to buy arms for the war against terror, vehicles and other items were recovered.
SaharaReporters learnt the second box which had just been opened contained $170,0000, £85,000 and €54,000.
The newspaper exclusively reported on Saturday that two boxes were found in the building but ICPC officials were only able to open one. The officials were unable to open the second box at the time of filing the report.
“They did not submit the money to the CBN (Central Bank of Nigeria) but kept it in the facility, trying to move the money. Two boxes were found but they (the ICPC) can’t open the second one still,” a source had told SaharaReporters.
On Sunday, SaharaReporters learnt $170,0000 (N103,700,000 at the parallel market rate of N610 to $1), £85,000 (N64,600,000 at the parallel market rate of N760 to 1£) and €54,000 (N34,020,000 at the parallel market rate of N630 to 1€) in cash were found in the second box.
This amounts to N202,320,000.
SaharaReporters earlier reported that the ICPC appeared to be doing the bidding of the former Army chief, Buratai, whose house was being used by a proxy, as the agency gave inconsistent figures of the amounts it found in the recovery of cash, vehicles and other items from the building.
SaharaReporters learnt that while the ICPC granted bail to the military contractor fronting for Buratai, claiming that N30 million was found in the apartment, the agency later said in an official release that N175 million was recovered.
Buratai, a retired Lieutenant General was the COAS between 2015 and 2021.
Azuka Ogugua, the spokesperson for the commission, had disclosed on Friday how the apartment was raided but did not give the details of Buratai’s links to the recovery.
Buratai, despite denials by his lawyer and other faceless individuals, already admitted to a newspaper that the property was his and no search warrant was obtained before it was raided.
One of the sources further revealed that the ICPC figures of recovery had discrepancies all in a bid to cover up for Buratai who is at the heart of the massive corruption unfolding.
One of the sources had said, “Buratai spoke to People’s Gazette saying ICPC had no search warrant contrary to denials by his lawyer that the property was not his.
“ICPC granted administrative bail to Buratai’s front claiming that they only found N30 million. They then issued a statement claiming they found N175 million.”
“This is not the first time Buratai would be involved in such a massive scandal. Buratai’s first issue was with a businessman who fronted for him in Kano but took away his loot. Buratai got military intelligence to arrest the guy but covered up the issue when the man threatened to spill.
“They advised Buratai to let him go or find an amicable way of settling the matter. Those involved properties are in Kano and Abuja,” another top source had told SaharaReporters.
SaharaReporters on Friday reported that the ICPC confirmed the recovery of cash, vehicles and other items worth billions of Naira from a military contractor fronting for Buratai.
Azuka Ogugua, the spokesperson for the commission, disclosed the arrest in a statement on Friday.
Ogagua identified the suspect as the Managing Director of K Salam Construction Company Nigeria Limited, Mr. Kabiru Sallau.
SaharaReporters had reported how ICPC officials last Thursday invaded a property in Abuja, recovering cash, vehicles and wrist watches worth billions of naira from a man who said they belonged to Buratai.
Sources said the anti-graft agency was tipped off about the cash haul by the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) during a probe of Kabiru.
Subsequently, the NFIU transferred the matter to ICPC, which deployed its operatives to invade the property in Wuse 2 of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja.
SaharaReporters gathered that the huge cash was part of the billions of Naira earmarked for the purchase of arms and ammunition by the Muhammadu Buhari-led government.
“Last week Thursday, ICPC officials stormed a house in Wuse area of Abuja, beside National Open University and arrested a man, Kabiru Salisu (Sallau) after they saw N850 million cash in the house,” a source had told SaharaReporters on Thursday.
“He claimed the money belonged to Tukur Buratai who was in Cotonou at that time.
“Officials of the ICPC took him to an office where another N1 billion in cash was also discovered. Also, bulletproof cars, BMW, G-Wagon worth N450m were recovered.”
Reacting in a statement on Friday, Ogugua said acting on intelligence, the commission raided the residence in Wuse 2, Abuja, where the expensive items were found.
The statement read, “The Commission wishes to state that ICPC operatives raided a property in Wuse 2 of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, on Thursday, 16th June, 2022 between 5:00 pm and 12:00 am in suspicion of money laundering.
Facts available for the time being indicates that the property is owned by owner of K Salam Construction Company, a military contractor.
“The Commission recovered money and other items from the property viz. N175,706,500; $220,965; G-Wagon; 2022 editions of BMW and Mercedes Benz cars; customized mobile phones; several designer wrist watches, including three Rolexes, and some property documents.
“The Commission arrested the Managing Director of K Salam Construction Company Nigeria Limited, Mr. Kabiru Sallau and investigation is ongoing. The Commission is yet to conclude its investigation and prefers not to preempt its outcome and also avoid the frenzy of a media trial.”
A source had earlier said the commission was under pressure to reduce the amount found in the ex-army chief’s house to as low as N30 million.
‘Missing’ Arms Funds
In March 2021, Nigeria’s National Security Adviser (NSA), Babagana Monguno revealed that funds running into billions of naira meant for the procurement of arms and ammunition under the past service chiefs were unaccounted for.
His revelation came a few months after President Buhari replaced Buratai and other service chiefs.
Others were former Chief of Defence Staff, Gabriel Olonishakin; Chief of Air Staff, Abubakar Sadique and Chief of Naval Staff, Ibok Ibas.
According to Monguno, neither the money nor the arms were on the ground upon the resumption of the new service chiefs.
“Now that he (President Buhari) has brought new people (service chiefs), hopefully, they will devise some ways… I’m not saying the former service chiefs diverted the money, but the money is missing. We don’t know how, and nobody knows for now,” he had said.
“The President will surely probe this matter. As we speak, the Nigerian Governors’ Forum too is also wondering where all the money went. I can assure you the President takes issues of this nature seriously.
“The fact is that preliminary investigation showed the funds are missing and the equipment is nowhere to be found.
“When the new service chiefs assumed office, they also said they did see anything on the ground.”
Buratai’s History Of Graft
Sahara Reporters had in a series of publications in 2016 exposed how Buratai procured expensive assets in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, between 2013 and 2015, from proceeds of crime.
He and his two wives in 2013 paid the sum of 1,498,534.00 AED (N120 million/$419,000) for the first property, Project TFG Marina Hotel Unit 2711.
Sale documents indicated that the first property was handed over to the Buratais on January 13, 2013.
Eleven days after he was appointed by President Buhari, the retired Army General made arrangements for the purchase of a second property from the same company in Dubai.
Between July 24 and August 17, 2015, he paid a total sum of N42.2 million into TFG Sigma 111’s account in Nigeria (Skye Bank 1770380452).
Evidence exclusively obtained by SaharaReporters revealed that Buratai made N10 million payments on July 24 and August 7 respectively.
Three days later, another N10 million was paid into the real estate firm’s account. The phone number on the Skye Bank teller is 08033349740. Saharareporters’ investigations showed that it belonged to a Nigerian Army Major, Emmanuel G. Adegbola of the Nigerian Army Finance Corps (N/10808).
On August 17, 2015, the Chief of Army Staff paid the sum of N3,270,000 into the account.
Buratai, who owned up to purchasing the two properties in Dubai, however, claimed that he amassed his wealth through “personal savings” and not ill-gotten gains.
He added he made a lot of money from his snake farm along Keffi-Abuja Highway in Nasarawa, just 50 kilometres from the nation’s capital.